Faculty & Staff

Sarah Halvorson

Sarah Halvorson

Environment and Development in Mountainous Regions

Fax: (406) 243-4840
Email: sarah.halvorson@umontana.edu
Office: Stone Hall 211
Office Hours:

Please contact via email.

Current Position

  • Professor of Geography
  • Coordinator, Montana Geographic Alliance
  • Director and Faculty Member, Undergraduate Minor in Mountain Studies
  • Faculty Member, Undergraduate International Development Studies Minor
  • Faculty Member, Women's and Gender Studies Program
  • Faculty Member, Systems Ecology Graduate Program (MS & PhD in Systems Ecology)


  • Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2000
    • Geography
    • Dissertation: Geographies of Children’s Vulnerability: Households and Water-Related Disease Hazard in Northern Pakistan (Dr. James L. Wescoat, Jr., Dissertation Advisor)
  • M.A., University of Colorado at Boulder, 1995
    • Geography
    • Thesis: She Who Holds A Bucket Holds A Choice: Evaluating Women’s Range of Choice of Water Supplies in Northern Pakistan (Dr. James L. Wescoat, Jr., Thesis Advisor)
    • Graduate Certifications
      • Interdisciplinary Environmental Policy Program, 1995, University of Colorado at Boulder
      • Graduate Teaching Program, 1995, University of Colorado at Boulder
  • B.A., St. Olaf College, 1990
    • English (with Departmental Distinction and honors) and Asian Studies Concentration
    • Senior Thesis: Women Warriors in the Literature of Maxine Hong Kinston and Amy Tan (Dr. Abigail Werlock, Thesis Advisor)

Field of Study

Water Resource Geography, Hazards and Disasters, Mountain Geography, Gender and the Environment, Central and South Asia.

Research Interests

Community water security, environmental risks and hazards, gender and development, geography education, glacier governance, human dimensions of climate change, hydro-social systems, mountain geography, qualitative methods, regional geography (African Sahel, Central and South Asia, Rocky Mountain West), rural livelihoods and resilience, transboundary water governance. 

Home Department

Department of Geography 

Area of Expertise

Environmental Hazards; Gender and Development; High Asia; Human Dimensions of Climate Change; Mountain Geography; Political Ecology; Water Policy

Systems Ecology Title

Professor, Social-Ecological Systems


  • GPHY 141S - Geography of World Regions
  • GPHY 144 - Montana's Mountains (Field Course)
  • GPHY 335 - Water Policy
  • GPHY 338 - Mountains and Society
  • GPHY 385 - Field Techniques in Geography 
  • GPHY 444 - High Asia
  • GPHY 500 - Geography Graduate Colloquium
  • GPHY 504 - Research Design I 
  • GPHY 505 - Research Design II

Teaching Experience

Other courses taught at UM

  • GEOG 202 - South Asian Cultures and Civilizations
  • GEOG 295 - Peoples and Cultures of Central and Southwest Asia
  • GEOG 479 - Rural, Town, and Regional Planning
  • GPHY 550 - Seminar in Geography: Global Change
  • GPHY 560 - Seminar in Planning

Professional Experience

Dr. Halvorson's teaching and research interests span several broad and diverse areas including: gender and social aspects of water resources and environmental hazards; medical and health geography; gender geography; international development in Central and South Asia and Africa; and water and landscape transformations in the Rocky Mountain West. From 1994 to 1998 she carried out ethnographic fieldwork in mountain communities in the Karakoram of northern Pakistan. This work culminated in a doctoral dissertation entitled, "Geographies of Children's Vulnerabilities: Households and Water-Related Disease Hazard in Northern Pakistan." Since 2000, she has carried out field studies in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana, Royal Kingdom of Bhutan, Republic of Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Tajikistan, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of Western China.  

Selected Publications

Selected Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

  • Caplins, L., Halvorson, S.J. and K. Bosak. 2018. “Beyond Resistance: A Political Ecology of Cordyceps as Alpine Niche Product in the Garhwal, Indian Himalaya,” Geoforum, 96: 298-308.
  • Caplins, L. and S.J. Halvorson. 2017. "Collecting Ophiocordyceps sinensis: An Emerging Livelihood Strategy in the Garhwal, Indian Himalaya," Journal of Mountain Science, 14(2): 390-402.
  • Dunkel, F., Hansen, L., Halvorson, S.J. and A. Bangert. 2017. “Women’s Perceptions of Health, Quality of Life, and Malaria Management in Kakamega County, Western Province, Kenya,” GeoJournal, 82(4): 841-865.
  • Piersall, A. and S.J. Halvorson. 2014. “Local Perceptions of Glacial Retreat and Livelihood Impacts in the At-Bashy Range of Kyrgzystan,” GeoJournal, 79:693-703.
  • Wescoat, James L. Jr. and S.J. Halvorson. 2012. "Emerging Regional Perspectives on Water Resaerch and Management: An Introductory Comment." Eurasian Geography and Economics.
  • Halvorson, S.J., Williams, A.L, Ba, S. and F. Dunkel. 2011. "Water Quality and Waterborne Disease along the Niger River, Mali: A Study of Local Knowledge and Response," Health and Place: An International Journal, 17(2): 449-457.
  • Wall, T. and S.J. Halvorson 2011. "Wildfire Research in an Environmental Hazards Course: An Active Learning Approach," Journal of Geography, 110(1): 6-15.
  • Mohadjer, S., R. Bendick, S.J. Halvorson, U. Saydullaev, O. Abduaziz, C. Stickler, and Z.R. Adam. 2010. “Earthquake Emergency Education in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.” Journal of Geoscience Education, 58(2): 86-94.
  • Halvorson, S.J. and J.P. Hamilton. 2010. “In the Aftermath of the 2005 Qa’yamat: The Kashmir Earthquake Disaster in Northern Pakistan,” Disasters: The Journal of Disaster Studies, Policy, and Management, 34(1): 184-204.
  • O’Reilly, K., S. J. Halvorson, F. Sultana and N. Laurie. 2009. “Introduction: Global Perspectives on Gender-Water Geographies,” Gender, Place and Culture, 16 (4): 381-385.
  • Halvorson, S.J. 2008. “Critical Water Problems in Tajikistan: Inventory and Prospect,” Geographishe Rundschau International Edition, 4(4):12-18.
  • Halvorson, S.J. 2008. “Saffron Cultivation and Culture in Central Spain,” FOCUS on Geography, 51(1): 17-24.
  • Halvorson, S.J. and Jennifer Parker Hamilton. 2007. “Vulnerability and the Erosion of Seismic Culture in Mountainous Central Asia,” Special Issue on Coping with Human Vulnerability in Mountain Environments, Mountain Research and Development, 27(4):322-331. View article as PDF file.
  • Hamilton, Jennifer Parker and S.J. Halvorson. 2007. “The 2005 Kashmir Earthquake: A Perspective on Women’s Experiences,” Special Issue on Coping with Human Vulnerability in Mountain Environments, Mountain Research and Development, 27(4): 296-301. View article as PDF file.
  • Halvorson, S.J. 2004. "Women's Management of the Household Health Environment: Responding to Childhood Diarrheal Disease in the Northern Areas, Pakistan," Health and Place, 10: 43-58.
  • Halvorson, S.J. 2003. "Placing' Health Risks in the Karakoram: Local Perceptions of Disease, Dependency, and Social Change in Northern Pakistan," Mountain Research and Development, 23(3): 271-277.
  • Halvorson, S.J. 2003. "A Geography of Children's Vulnerability: Gender, Household Resources, and Water-Related Disease Hazard in Northern Pakistan," The Professional Geographer, 55(2):120-133.
  • Halvorson, S.J. 2002. "Environmental Health Risks and Gender in the Karakoram-Himalaya, Pakistan," The Geographical Review, 92 (2): 257-281.

Other Publications

  • Halvorson, S.J. and Steven Levine. 2010. “Field Observations from China’s ‘New Frontier,’ Invited article and photography, Ubique ~ Notes from The American Geographical Society, 30(1):1-7.
  • Halvorson, S.J. and Steven Levine. 2010. "A New Frontier in China for The University of Montana." Special issue on "International Education in Asia." IIENetworker Magazine, March: 27-28.
  • Halvorson, S.J. 2009. “Teaching the Crown in Polebridge, Montana.” In Crown of the Continent Initiative E Magazine (http://issuu.com/crown_of_the_continent/docs/spring2009), edited by Rick Graetz and Jerry Fetz.. Missoula, MT: The University of Montana Press (pp. 98-105).
  • Halvorson, S.J. et al. 2003. Firestorms 2000: A Bitter Root Oral History. Missoula, MT: Bitter Root Valley Historical Society.
  • Halvorson, S.J. 2002. The Fires of 2000: Community Response and Recovery in the Bitter Root Valley, Western Montana. Quick Response Research Report #151. Boulder, Colorado: Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center, University of Colorado. URL: http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/qr/qr151/qr151.html.
  • Wescoat, J.L., Jr. and S.J. Halvorson. 2000. Ex-Post Evaluations of Dams and Related Water Projects: Patterns, Problems, and Potential. Report to the World Commission on Dams, Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Aziz, N. and S. J. Halvorson. 1999. Women’s Involvement: A Switch in Thinking, Hoto, Pakistan. In PLA (Participatory Learning and Action) Notes: Community Water Management. Edited by M.P. Lammerink and D. de Jong. London: International Institute for Environment and Development (pp. 47-51).
  • Halvorson, S.J.; Aziz, N. and K. Alibhoy. 1999. Development of Strategies to Involve Women in Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Interventions in Northern Pakistan: Experiences of the Water and Sanitation Extension Programme, in Proceedings of the 24th WEDC Conference, Islamabad, Pakistan, 1998: Sanitation and Water for All, edited by J. Pickford. Leicestershire, UK: Loughborough University.
  • Halvorson, S.J. 1998. Linking Water, Diarrheal Diseases, and Mothers’ Knowledge: A Case Study from Northern Pakistan. Report to the Aga Khan Health Services Pakistan, Gilgit, Northern Areas.
  • Michel, S. and S.J. Halvorson. 1996. Book Review: Joni Seager’s Earth Follies: Coming to Feminist Terms with the Global Environmental Crisis, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 86 (2): 350-352.
  • Halvorson, S.J. 1994. Women, Water, and Sanitation: Lessons from the Field. Technical Report. Women and Development Section, Aga Khan Rural Support Program. Gilgit, Pakistan: AKRSP.